WORLD WAR Z
By Gary Murray
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireile Enos and Daniella Kertesz
Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof
Directed by Marc Forster
Running time 116 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
Arguably, Brad Pitt is the most famous actor in the world. He has been a part of such hits as Inglorious Basterds, Fight Club and Money-ball. Easily one of the most recognized faces that have been put upon the silver screen, Brad and his fiancée Angelina Jolie are cinema royalty. His latest is a giant foray into action hero domain and in titled World War Z.
It is a film of a world wide zombie panic. The story starts in Philadelphia with Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) making breakfast for his family. It is a set up to give information. Gerry worked for the UN and retired to be with is wife and two kids.
Driving downtown, they are caught in a traffic jam. A motorcycle cop zooms by and busts Gerry side-view mirror. As he gets out, an explosion happens. People begin running in different directions. Gerry uses his training and skills to get his family to safety. Noticing that some kind of virus is attacking victim to victim, Gerry sees this as a very deadly pathogen. Like the first drips streaming down a cliff, this virus as a harbinger of something really bad.
Almost instantly, hordes of people become infected and turn into a swarm of zombies. They rush and race with breakneck speed. These are not the slow moving un-dead of Night of the Living Dead but more like the supercharged beasts of 28 Days Later.
Gerry and the family take refuge in an apartment of Spanish speaking residents. He tries to convince them that movement is survival and they must get out of the building. As Gerry and his family make it to the roof and UN safety, the zombies attack the building.
Eventually, Gerry lands on a Navy ship and finds out that the plague is world-wide. There is a doctor on board who believes that they much find the first victim and that will lead to a cure. Gerry does not want to have any part of the investigation. The higher-ups let him know that if he does not help; his family will be put off the ship. Before we can blink, we get a ‘road trip’ around the world
In Korea, he finds the first victim—a burned and charred mass of flesh that still moves. It gives Gerry no answers. He also notices that some of the men who were directly exposed to the virus are not turned. Gerry begins to wonder why some become infected within 12 seconds while others seem immune. It is a deadly mystery that he must solve.
Then, he travels to one of the few places where the virus has not attached itself to the masses, Jerusalem. Gerry begins to think that there must be a link between the virus and the walled city.
He watches the army check everyone before they get into the city. Outside the walls, the zombie horde begins to amass. They become irritated by loud noises and begin to climb the city walls. It was is easily the most exciting moment of the entire film, the mass of zombies build a mountain of flesh that helps them breach the walls. They swarm more like ants at a picnic.
The film eventually ends up at the WHO building where Gerry gives his theories to how to defeat the zombie plague. In requires getting to the bio-hazard room. Between these two points are about 80 raging undead. Gerry and a few others must transverse the halls of the building and get to the solution.
The problem with the film is in the third act. Where the second act builds upon the first, the third does not build on the second. In other words, the ending is not that exciting or that interesting. The best parts of the film are the attacking zombies and not the finding of the cure. The film builds to an exciting middle, not to a breath-taking finish.
Brad Pitt delivers an interesting if subdued performance. He does everything for one simple reason, to save his family. This is much more of a reluctant hero than one has seen from actors in this genre of film. It becomes playing against type-casting with what should have been a standard, rote role.
The rest of the cast is much more fodder that function. They are there for only two reasons, to either be zombies or to be victims. It doesn’t take much acting to be a flesh eater or a dinner entrée. This is a single star vehicle and that star is Brad Pitt.
Director Marc Forster is the man behind Quantum of Solace, so he knows how to make a decent action vehicle. This film is of a single character on a singular quest so it does parallel the Bond mystique. But, the director forgets the first rule of making action which is keep the audience on their seats. Besides, you don’t let up until the final frame. The film just loses its steam half way though and never finds that giant cinematic ending.
Lately zombies have become the go-to monsters of cinema. Twilight killed the vampire film and The Mummy went from classic horror to CGI fantasy. By re-imagining the genre, the undead have gone from slow-witted crawlers to fast-paced killers. This zombie film has moments of genius, it just needed an ending.